SUMMARY: Mrs. Hattie Myers, age 19, died at Wichita Hospital on the morning of Tuesday, March 7, 1922 after an abortion attributed to Dr. Charles C. Keester.
Hattie Mae Fields Myers, age 19, died at Wichita Hospital on the morning of Tuesday, March 7, 1922.
After hearing the testimony of twelve witnesses, including four doctors, a coroner’s jury concluded that Hattie had died from complications of an abortion perpetrated by Dr. Charles C. Keester. He was arrested on March 10, charged with two counts of manslaughter — one for Hattie’s death, and another for the death of her unborn bay.
When she was admitted to the hospital on February 28, Hattie signed a statement naming implicating Keester. Two other witnesses signed similar statements giving the date of the abortion as February 16. Hattie’s mother, Mrs. Grace Fields, said that after taking ill Hattie had told her about the abortion. “She said she had enough children already. She was only nineteen and had two children, one three years old and another one year old.”
Another woman testified that on February 16, she had been at the Myers home and had seen both Hattie and Keester there.
Hattie’s family doctor, W. T. Logston, testified that he had been called in to care for Hattie during her sickness and he attirbuted her death to abortion complications.
Keester asserted that Hattie had come to him three weeks before her death, ill with pneumonia. He had taken steps, he said, to try to save her life. As the attending physician, he had signed a death certificate attributing Hattie’s death to pneumonia. However, the autopsy found nothing at all wrong with Hattie’s lungs. She had died of peritonitis.
However, because Hattie’s statement blaming Keester had been made upon her admission to the hospital, and not at a point where she believed she was about to die, it was not considered a deathbed statement and thus was considered only hearsay, not valid evidence against Keester. The other statements likewise were considered hearsay rather than evidence, including one of Hattie’s relatives who said that she’d reported paying Keester $20 for the abortion. The charges against him were thus dropped.
Hattie left her husband, Tom, to raise their two children alone.
Hattie was the second woman that I know of whose abortion death was attributed to Keester. The others are:
- Mrs. Virgil Rector, late November or early December, 1921
- Hazel Hadicke, age 19, December 16, 1923
- Loren Franklin, age 19, August, 1924
- “Bonnie,” age 18, August, 1924,
- Rena Armstrong, age 17, February 28, 1930
- “Two Warrants for a Physician; Keester is Held,” Wichita Beacon, Mar. 10, 1922
- “Death of Wife is Placed on Her Physician,” Wichita Beacon, Mar. 15, 1922
- “Woman’s Death Removed From Doctor’s Door,” Wichita Beacon, Mar. 20, 1922
- “Keester is Freed,” Wichita Daily Eagle, Mar. 21, 1922
- “Conducts Post Mortem,” Wichita Daily Eagle, Mar. 12, 1922